Demystification: GPS and GPRS

[This post talks about the difference between GPS and GPRS. If you already know the difference you may skip it.]

As an engineer, I would like to apologize to everyone for confusing acronyms being shoved down normal people’s throats. GPS and GPRS is one such pair of acronyms in the mobile domain which normal people tend to use interchangably. But these terms are totally different and have nothing in common and I will try and make it clear and easily distinguishable.

Global Positioning System (GPS):
GPS is used for establishing your location in the world.

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS):
GPRS is a service offered by your cell company which allows transmission of data to/from your phone.

If you have Internet on your phone – it’s probably coming through GPRS (or EGPRS, EVDO or all the new fancy high speed methods). If your phone has a special system by which it can accurately find out it’s location in the world then it is GPS.

GPS is a free service. GPRS costs money. GPRS connects your phone to the Internet. When you check your mail, browse the web etc. through your phone, then you are using GPRS.

Tip to Remember: GPS does only one thing and it is a shorter acronym. GPRS lets you do many things and it is the longer acronym.

Confusing but perfectly correct usage:
I get my location coordinates through GPS. I get information about this position through GPRS.
So, my GPS tells my phone that I am in Ann Arbor. My phone uses a GPRS connection to get a list of restaurants in Ann Arbor from the Internet.

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